The Saithwaite Family

Artist: Francis Wheatley (British, London 1747–1801 London)

Date: ca. 1785

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 38 3/4 x 50 in. (98.4 x 127 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 2009

Accession Number: 2009.357


Wheatley was among the best painters of the small-scale group portrait, or conversation piece, which is so typical of the mid-eighteenth-century English school. Here he shows a couple and their little girl, traditionally identified as members of the Saithwaite family. The lady's dress, with its elaborate starched white muslin trim, her puffy powdered hair, and her elaborate plumed hat indicate a date of about 1785. The red figured damask upholstery and the Turkey carpet are painted with attention to detail, but the pattern of the carpet is too steeply foreshortened and it seems to slope forward.